The Lansing Report
The Lansing Report
When the Board of Commissioners appointed me to the position of interim executive director, I recognized that they were entrusting me with a great deal of responsibility. I am honored to be asked to serve in this capacity, and I intend to live up to that trust. The State Bar of Michigan is one of the leading bars in the country, winning national awards and setting the pace in many regards. However, as with any organization, large or small, there is room for improvement.
When President Al Butzbaugh told me I should continue to write an executive director’s column, I wanted to communicate with the membership that I plan to make sure the State Bar does more than simply tread water while the Board undertakes a national search for a permanent executive director. Rest assured that all of the services and programs will continue without missing a beat, but please know that a concerted effort is underway to improve member relations and communications. I believe the State Bar should be committed to being responsive to its members’ needs and expectations and that the Bar should be truly member-service oriented. I also believe the Bar should be innovative, and I will be looking for ways to use technology to provide members with more award-winning products and services like the e-Journal.
Consistent with these ideas, I’d like to invite any member of the State Bar to contact me with any comments, concerns, or suggestions. You can call me toll-free at (877) 248-7233, ext. 6375. That is my direct dial number, which is not screened. If you’d prefer, you may send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org In addition, there is a link from the State Bar’s website to send comments or suggestions directly to me. Look for the ‘‘Contact the Interim Executive Director’’ link at www.michbar.org Of course, I am always pleased to receive correspondence via the U.S. Post Office as well.
On the day the Board appointed me interim executive director we called a meeting of the full staff. One of the things I stressed with everyone was that I intend to instill a standard of excellence, and by ‘‘excellence’’ I mean not only doing things right—but doing the right things. The familiar quote from Roberts P. Hudson, our first State Bar president, sums it up succinctly: ‘‘No organization of lawyers can long survive which has not for its primary object the protection of the public.’’ Everyone on staff understands that we serve an organization of lawyers who serve the public. With this understanding of our common mission, I am confident that we will be able to accomplish great things for you, your clients, and the public.
It’s Your State Bar Staff
Many of you know some of the members of the State Bar staff. Lisa Allen-Kost, Judy Clark, MaryAnn Sarosi, Tom Byerley, Mary Kelly, and Karen Williams are just a few of the names and faces that are probably familiar to many of you. This is your State Bar staff and there are many other talented, hard working people who have made it their careers to serve the legal profession in various capacities. In an effort to help all of you get to know at least a little more about some of the members of the State Bar staff, we’ll be featuring a few staff members in a new column in each Bar Journal. See ‘‘Your State Bar Staff’’ on page 475 for this month’s edition. I hope you’ll find those columns interesting and informative.
Innovative Renovations: Improving Your Bar Building
If you’ve read the e-Journal or visited the State Bar of Michigan’s website lately, you have probably seen the photos and the article that provide members with an update on the Bar building renovation project. If you’ve actually visited the Bar building lately, you’ve seen first-hand the transformation in progress. I believe it’s important to keep you informed throughout this process, and that’s why I’d like to shift the focus to the latest developments in the building construction project.
Since publication of the article on our website, the construction project has steadily progressed. The basement offices are receiving final paint and will receive ceiling tile next week. All first floor meeting rooms are ready for paint and wall coverings. Eighty-five percent of the ceiling grids are now in, and rough mechanical and electrical components should be complete within the next two weeks, after which all drywall ceilings and all remaining lay-in ceiling grids will be installed.
When the renovations are completed, the Michael Franck Building will be a more efficient, flexible, and technologically up-to-date facility that will indeed change the way we do business at the Bar.
We are especially proud of what the new Bar building will offer our members including:
•An entire first floor devoted to member meeting rooms (seven in all)
•Meeting room capacities ranging from 10 to 100 persons
•Quick and easy Internet access from all meeting rooms
•Multi-media presentation, teleconferencing, and two-way video conferencing capabilities
•Eight telephones available for visitor use on the first floor
In essence, your Bar building will not only provide you with all the necessary amenities for your convenience, but it will also be able to serve as your satellite office in Lansing.
Time Frame for Completion
Despite the fact that some delays have been encountered, we are still on track for completion of renovations this summer. The last renovations were made to the Bar building back in 1978, which meant the building had to undergo many infrastructure changes to bring it into the 21st Century. The building underwent an extensive and thorough asbestos abatement process to ensure air quality safety for all staff, tenants, and visitors to the building. In the process of tearing down walls, the construction crew also uncovered several structural columns not accounted for in the demolition and construction plans. Additionally, the mechanical engineer had to re-engineer closure of the stairwell, which was previously located just outside the former board room, as the carriers were insufficient.
Construction delays also inevitably changed the cost of the entire construction project. We are currently estimating that the final cost for renovations will be under $4.5 million. In 1998, we budgeted $3.3 million. Despite the investment in renovating the building, we have still been able to extend the time before the next dues increase will be necessary. A dues increase was originally projected for 1997. Last year we were on track to delay an increase until at least 2001. However, even with the renovations, we are on track to delay the next dues increase by a couple more years.
Renovation project funds were made possible through significant increases in nondues income over recent years, including investment income on reserves and by holding down operating expenses to protect our reserves. Fortunately, the project was begun at a time when interest rates were extremely low.
We appreciate your patience through the renovation process. The Bar is planning a grand opening reception upon completion of the renovations. Whether you join us for the festivities then, or visit later in a more informal setting, we think you’ll be very pleased with the end result and we look forward to welcoming you back to your new and improved Bar building.